Doing More Isn’t Doing Better
How to Be an English Teacher and Have a Life
Dave Stuart Jr.
Cedar Springs, Michigan
Allen Park, Michigan
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Why did you become a teacher?
● “I love kids.”
● “I love learning and want to inspire
kids to learn and grow.”
● “I am passionate about my subject.”
● “I want to make a difference.”
What are you doing every
day in your classroom
that directly contradicts
the very reason you
became a teacher?
“The way of the Essentialist isn’t about
setting New Year’s resolutions to say ‘no’
more, or about pruning your inbox or
about mastering some new strategy in
time management. It is about pausing to
constantly ask, ‘Am I investing in the right
● Lives by design, not default
● Distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many
● Enjoys the journey, not just the destination
● Recognizes not just the mental discipline but the EMOTIONAL discipline it
takes to say no
● Doesn’t say yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! or no.
“If you don’t prioritize your life,
someone else will.”
Have a repertoire for saying no
Awkward pause (Own it!)
“Let me check my calendar and get back to you.”
“Yes. What should I deprioritize?”
“You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y.”
“I can’t do it but X might be interested.”
... and Parkinson’s Law
“It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time
available for its completion…” (Parkinson, The Economist, Nov 19, 1955)
Work schedule post:
You’re probably never going to hear
someone in your school system say, “Yep.
It’s fine to cut corners here. Go ahead
and spend time with your family.” You
are responsible for drawing your own
boundaries around your time. You can’t
wait for someone to give you permission.
- Angela Watson
Life is pain.
The world can never be solved.
Through my torment, the truth
shall be revealed.
Life is interesting.
Perhaps not… but it can be gamed.
I didn’t come here to suffer, pal.
Aspects of Technology
● Apps & Add-ons
● Social Media
● Cell phones/tablets
● Setting limits
Creative Grading Techniques
● 4:1 Ratio
● Credit vs. grade
● Socratic seminars, partner/group/class discussions, etc.
● Self and peer editing/grading of assignments
● Feedback vs. grading
● “Never work harder than your students.” -Robyn R.
From Short Term Solutions to
Long Term Goals
How to think beyond just survival
Are we asking
teachers to live
authentic lives in
lives FOR school?
Hold Yourself Accountable to Your Students
“I’m just gonna read all hour. I’m not
gonna do a crossword puzzle.”
What does an authentic reading and writing life look
● Write Beside Them
● Read beside them
● No more language arts and crafts
● Realistic goals
● Teach for knowledge, not test results
● Real-World Writing Purposes -Kelly Gallagher
● Less busywork, more REAL work
● Remind ourselves what we are asking students to do all day
● Student input
Is what we’re doing necessary?
“At the high school level, the
correlation is weak and tends to
disappear when more sophisticated
statistical measures are applied.
Meanwhile, no study has ever
substantiated the belief that
homework builds character or
teaches good study habits.”
--Alfie Kohn, “Rethinking
Students should NEVER fail
because of articles of the
week (or homework).
Slow Down to Speed Up
Routines allow for more work to be accomplished when
the kids are actually in front of you and you are directly
responsible for their learning.
Time = Values
● Student choice of writing topics.
● Prewriting, drafting, revising,
● Teacher modeling.
● Reading aloud to students.
● Give time to read choice
materials and required texts.
● Teacher-decided writing topics.
● Writing assignments that are
given briefly and completed in
● Whole-class reading.
● Teaching reading as a one-step
“If they’re not reading with you,
they’re not reading without you.” -Kelly Gallagher
from Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde’s Best Practices
Identify and Communicate Your Values
And “research says…”
How the narrative of the
caring educator does more
harm than good
If you just work harder
If you just stay at school
If you’d just care more…
It’s all on YOU.
The time is NOW to advocate for our profession
“It's not about making the case for advocacy.
It's about making the case for you as
advocates.” - Ernest Morrell
When Legislators Attempt to Stifle Teacher Voice
Did you know...
Since 1960 NCTE has formally advocated
for teachers to have no more than 100
students per day?
Since 1960 NCTE has formally advocated for
teachers to have no more than 100 students
Resolution on Teaching Loads of English and Language Arts Teachers
Inform and empower yourself
● NCTE Position Statements
● NCTE Advocacy Day and Month
● Know your senators and congressmen AND even their staffers
● Know the people on your school board - and develop
relationships with them
● Go to school board meetings
● Invite stakeholders into your schools and classrooms
● Inform yourself and vote at the local level, where change is more
● Find ways to build collegial relationships with your administrators
and not just see them as your evaluator
We can care, but we can’t carry the burden alone.
What are ways that we are telling our stories and inviting others to share the
load in a time that places more and more responsibilities on our shoulders?
“Adults need to
have fun so
children will want
to grow up.”
- Erica Bauermeister
conversation on our